Building Vocabulary: From Remembering to Integration
"Words are the voice of the heart." - Confucius
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Students need to go beyond memorizing vocabulary lists or taking vocabulary quizzes. Building vocabulary requires learners to identify new words they choose to add to their knowledge, define them, and understand how to use them correctly when communicating, writing, or speaking. Below is a slide presentation, free to download, followed by tips, activities, web tools, and apps for a variety of age groups.
Tips and Web Tools
- Show learners how to look up words using their own devices, online dictionaries, dictionary apps, and extensions. Find an extensive list here.
- Getting learners used to the idea of looking up vocabulary makes them more autonomous.
- Encourage students to use voice assistants/virtual butlers, such as Siri, Alexa, or Google to define words, find synonyms, and find antonyms. Students can use the commands, "Hey Siri/ Alexa/ Google ... What is the definition for ____?", "Translate ___ into ____ (language)", and "What are synonyms/antonyms ____?"
- During class discussions keep a vocabulary list on the side with new words that emerge.
- Encourage students to keep a visual vocabulary learning journal with new words they learn each day from class, tv, on the Internet, etc.
- Students and you should fill the classroom walls with visual examples of vocabulary you are learning throughout the year.
- Allow students to add to class Word Walls or to draw new vocabulary on butcher paper taped to a wall.
- Introduce useful strategies through posters or infographics, such as using prefixes, roots, suffixes and cognates to guess the meaning of words.
- Research shows that one of the best ways to learn vocabulary is through Total Physical Response (TPR), which is combining language and physical movement. Check out my digital poster teaching children “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”
- Teach vocabulary with songs, finger plays, and chants. Check out Cullen’s ABC’s free videos for young learners.
- Play classroom games!
- Get them to visualize vocabulary by playing digital games! Check out any of these sites to find games for adolescents: Learning Games for Kids, Kindersite, Learn English Kids, Sheppard Software, Pumkin English, TinyTap, and Nick Jr.
- Take them on walks exploring the nature around them. They can create digital books classifying rocks, identifying bugs, naming plants and potential uses, or capturing the sounds of various birds. Recommended apps include Google Slides, Edubuncee, Canva, Book Creator, or EduGlogster.
- Get them to learn with graphic organizers and concept mapping. Find several, such as the Frayer Model, here.
- Use flashcards!
- ABCya– Several fun learning games to learn vocabulary. Also, discover generators for students or teachers to create crossword puzzles, wordfinds, and word clouds.
- Boggles World ESL has several activities, handouts, games, flashcards, and more!
- Starfall is one of the best sites with games, stories, songs, and activities for children to practice pronunciation.
- Vocab Grabber– Paste in text from any article and a word cloud vocabulary list is generated. Click on the word to see the visual thesaurus of similar words.